Johannesburg, the city of gold. Arriving in largest city in South Africa was quite an experience. For the majority of us, this was the first time being on the continent of Africa. We landed at in the hustle and bustle of O.R. Tambo International Airport at 8:30AM and immediately proceeded to pass through customs and immigration. Being short of time, we rushed through immigration, grabbed our bags and met our tour guide, Alaistair, who immediately whisked us off to our first destination, the University of Witwatersrand.
We were greeted by Professor Cuthbert Musingwini, head of the Wits School of Mining Engineering. Our group of 30 sat down in this room and listened to Professor Musingwini talk about the history of his school.
The school is the largest mining school in all of Africa and is one of two schools that graduate Mining Engineers in South Africa. It is accredited by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA) and is celebrating its 120 year anniversary. The school started as South Africa School of mines with 5 students in 1896 in a town called Kimberly. It now currently hosts 800 students. In 1922, it was given official University status and offered courses outside of Mining Engineering. After going through multiple name changes, it finally became the University of Witwatersrand. It is currently ranked as the #1 school in Africa and #22 out of the top 50 universities in the world in 2016 by QS.
Next, Professor Frederick Cawood, the former head of the Wits School of Mining and the current head of the Wits Mining Institute arrived and explained the work he was doing at WMI on DigiMine. It was thrilling to listen to him describe their work on underground communications systems, LiDAR, and the use of machine recognition to recognize worker faces, read sensory data for environmental monitoring, to ensure PPE compliance.
We were toured around their building and basement, where there was a mock underground mine.
Finally, we were given the opportunity to meet representatives from the student body. France was the president of the student body. The students come from a variety of backgrounds from throughout Africa. At the best times, 97% of students receive sponsorships from companies who support them through their academic endeavours. Currently, 60% of students are on company sponsorships. They talked about their curriculum, which every student follows the same. They have a strong focus on underground mines at U of Wits and the majority of students stay to work in South Africa.
We took this last picture in front of the Unknown Miner before a final farewell. The Unknown Miner is a statue that recognizes the hard work of the unacknowledged miners of Johannesburg that established the City of Gold in 1886. It is a symbol of hard work and every student is encouraged to touch it as they leave the school.
Lastly, once again we would like to thank all of the following companies for their support. Without the industry support that we received we could not have had this experience!
Pan American Silver
Copper Mountain Mining Company
Canadian Mineral Processors Society
Sepro Mineral Systems
Quartz Creek Development Ltd.
Mineit Consulting Inc
Progressive Rubber Ind. Inc
Eriez Flotation Division
Flygt: a Xylem Brand
The Yale Saloon
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